Fish Mimics Mimic Octopus That Mimics Fish
The mimic octopus can take on the forms of a lionfish, a jellyfish, a shrimp, a crab, and more than ten other animals. But now a jawfish in Indonesia has been filmed one-upping the marine master of disguise—it mimics the mimic octopus.
Researcher Godehard Kopp was diving off South Sulawesi Province (map) when he noticed a tiny yellow-and-black striped fish swimming alongside a similarly colored mimic octopus. Surprised, Kopp, of the University of Göttingen in Germany, filmed the event and sent the video to biologists Luiz Rocha and Rich Ross at the California Academy of Sciences and for their interpretation. Rocha and Ross only compounded the mystery. “We’ve never seen anything like that before,” Rocha said.
Adding to the odd situation, the jawfish’s species is even in question. It looks like a black-marble jawfish, aka harlequin jawfish, aka Japanese jawfish—a variety thought to have a range stretching from southern Japan south to Indonesia, the home of the mimic octopus.
“We’re not even sure if the jawfish (throughout that range are) actually one species,” Rocha said. “The one from Indonesia might even be a new species.”
Source: Rachel Kaufman for National Geographic News